2008 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain

2008 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain
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750 ML   USA, California, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain

  Wine Advocate #198
           Dec 2011
       Antonio Galloni           98+       Drink: 2028- 2043

The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain takes things to another level, as hard as it may seem to believe. This was another difficult vintage for Dunn. Yields were down a full 50%. In exchange, nature rewarded Dunn with the fruit to make an epic wine that could very well turn out to be a modern-day legend. The 2008 is a huge, towering wine packed with dark fruit, licorice, tar, asphalt and licorice. Layers of perfume are woven throughout this majestic effort. The 2008 should only be purchased by the very patient, but it is a legendary wine in the making. Anticipated maturity: 2028-2043. 

I tasted a large number of wines with Randy Dunn this year. These are some of the most powerful, age worthy Cabernets being made in Napa Valley today. Dunn is very much an iconoclast who follows his own convictions. Picking is a bit earlier here than elsewhere throughout the valley. Dunn isn’t too concerned if stems occasionally make it into the fermenter. A fervent advocate of lower-alcohol wines, Dunn makes no apologies for removing alcohol from his wines if they come in above 14%. Personally, that strikes me as a totally unnecessary intervention, but it’s hard to argue with the quality of what is in the bottle, and ultimately that is what counts most. The Napa Valley bottling includes purchased fruit from the valley floor and is typically a slightly more accessible wine, while the Howell Mountain is a much tougher wine that typically demands 20 years to enter its early peak. These Cabernets are for the patient, but make no mistake about it, in top vintages the Howell Mountain is one of the great wines, not just of California, but of the world. Readers who want to explore these wines without waiting several decades may want to start with the 2005 or 2007 Napa Valley bottlings, both of which are somewhat accessible at this stage.

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